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Lifeforce: the Mother of All Journeys - Review

Home > Sydney > Comedy | Festivals | Fun Things To Do | Musicals | Theatre
by Maddy Butler (subscribe)
A Sydney based writer, director, actor. Loves going out and exploring what Sydney has to offer.
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One woman’s wish is another woman’s curse
'Lifeforce' takes a refreshing, inspiring and sometimes comical look at motherhood. On her 40th birthday, Ruth, single and at the helm of a successful design magazine, decides it's time to have a baby. Of course, there are obstacles galore for a single woman of 40, and Ruth is launched on a long struggle to fulfil her desire.

The issues of fertility and the choice to be a mother are beautifully explored in the piece. The character of Ruth is juxtaposed with her younger employee, for whom conception is a piece of - unwanted - cake. Alongside this is the story of Ruth's birth mother, unknown to Ruth as she was given up for adoption and was ultimately brought up by her housemaid because her adoptive mother was a kook.

The story was inspired by writer Joanna Weinberg's close friend, who underwent a similar struggle when trying for children. It is therefore fitting, and rather sweet, that this friend, Natalie Lotkin, is cast as the main character. And, boy, does she do a brilliant job. She delivers a moving performance; we feel the pain of her trials and tribulations to create new life while finding the truth of her own origins.

lifeforce, musical, natalie lotkin, king st theatre
Natalie Lotkin on stage

Most importantly for the star of a musical, Lotkin possesses a wonderful voice. Indeed, all six actors do justice to the 23 original songs in 'Lifeforce'. Each performer has their moment to shine with a solo, which they all deliver with precision and gusto. The highlight of the show, however, is the harmonies; their voices woven together beautifully to express the characters' deepest thoughts and feelings. The songs are accompanied by live music; Brad Miller (also the Musical Director) plays a piano situated to the left of the stage.

Despite focusing on heavily female-oriented themes, 'Lifeforce' is definitely a musical everyone can enjoy. The cast is talented, the characters engaging and the songs make for a rollicking good ride that will captivate viewers from the get-go. The standout song of the musical is sung in the fertility centre, when Ruth prepares to undergo her first IVF treatment. It's catchy, fun and with a bit of swing that inspires laughs and applause from the whole audience.

Director Lisa Freshwater has made excellent use of the theatre space. The set is both eye-catching and inventive, with a few simple pieces of furniture being reused to recreate a range of vastly different scenes. Freshwater's direction has served the musical well: the actors make a strong ensemble and are all believable. The actors' transitions between minor characters is seamless.

Overall, 'Lifeforce' would benefit from a few revisions. At some points the dialogue could be shorter and the storylines tighter, however, this does not detract from the overall experience. Although rather long at 105 minutes, the musical is never boring or a drag.

Lifeforce' is part of the Sydney Fringe Festival and is only on until September 21. It is a delightful, touching musical that's well worth the trip to King St Theatre.

All images appear courtesy of Richard Weinstein.
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*Maddy Butler was invited as a guest
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Why? To see a heart-warming, funny musical
When: Wed - Sat 7:30pm
Phone: 0423 082 015
Where: King St Theatre
Cost: $30 adult, $25 concession
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